Fouts Family and the Founding of the American Soybean Association

Timeline of Fouts Family Work with Soybeans and the Founding (Sept. 1920) of the American Soybean Association on the Fouts Family Farm

1896 or 1898 - Solomon Fouts (father of Noah, Finis, and Taylor Fouts) receives two varieties of soybean seeds, free of charge from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He plants these in rows across a cornfield on his farm near Deer Creek, Carroll County, Indiana. These were probably the first soybeans grown in Carroll County. Solomon's soybeans attract considerable attention as a legume that grows upright (erect) and produces abundant seeds. A lasting impression was made on Taylor Fouts (born 14 Dec. 1880), the youngest of Solomon's eight living children.

1902 - Taylor Fouts graduates from Purdue University (which is Indiana's state agricultural college) with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture; he was the only member of the Fouts family to graduate from college. During the early 1900s, several faculty members in the Purdue College of Agriculture were very interested in soybeans; these included W.C. Latta, John H. Skinner, Alfred T. Wiancko, and C.O. Cromer. Taylor was now "convinced that the whole Cornbelt needed soybeans and would like them for keeps."

1904 spring - Taylor Fouts collects soybean seed from the Indiana Experiment Station and "Soybean" Smith - an Indiana soybean pioneer from Warren County - enough to plant 4 acres, 1 acre each of the Ogema, Ito San, Early Brown and Hollybrook varieties. Since he planted them incorrectly, only a few grew, but he saved that seed for another trial in 1905. Each year he planted more "soys" and by 1907 his varieties were Ito San and Hollybrook.

1907 Feb. - The first published report of Taylor Fouts' growing of or experiments with soy beans appears in the Indiana (Purdue) Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin No. 117. Titled "Results of cooperative tests of varieties of corn, wheat, oats, soy beans and cow peas." by A.T. Wiancko, it describes variety trials conducted in Indiana during 1906. One of the three experimenters in northern Indiana was Taylor Fouts of Camden, Carroll Co. He tested Ito San, Early Brown, and "Soy Bean 12339." Since his yields were significantly lower than those of the other two growers, they were not included in the averages.

1907 April 2 - Solomon Fouts (born 16 Dec. 1826 in Montgomery Co., Ohio) dies at his home near Deer Creek, Indiana. He is buried at Deer Creek Cemetery, near Deer Creek, Carroll County, Indiana.

1907 Oct. 24 - Taylor is married to Lillie May Wagoner (born 4 Nov. 1883) at Flora, Carroll Co., Indiana. Lillie May was obliged to postpone their wedding day until Taylor finished threshing his soybeans. "We finally set October 24 as being amply late, but I just finished threshing at noon that day. We were married at 3 p.m. and were off for the long-planned honeymoon." Taylor now had 200 bushels of seed soybeans - a unique possession.


1908 spring - Noah Fouts (born 25 Jan. 1864 in Indiana) and Finis Fouts (pronounced FAI-nus, born 21 Nov. 1866), join Taylor for the first time in planting soybeans. "We ventured drilling soybean with the corn so that our western lambs, to be purchased in September, would have a more balanced ration. My two older brothers took readily to this plan and thereafter grew soybeans as a habit."

1908 April 1 - Nellie M. Pottenger, Finis' wife, dies in California at age 35. Finis had gone with her to California to help with her care, and he suffered a "nervous collapse" after her death. He was in critical condition for a while, then left to raise their five children. devastated by her death.

1909 April 21 - Pauline Fouts, the first child of Taylor and Lillie May Fouts is born at their home near Deer Creek. They would have two more children: Frederic Fouts (born 20 Sept. 1910) and Mary Margaret Fouts (born 26 Dec. 1919).

1909 June - Taylor writes his first article for an agricultural journal, the Purdue Agriculturist (p. 3-5). Titled "Opportunities on the farm for the trained man," it discusses the many benefits of an agricultural education, but does not discuss soybeans - or any other crops. He will later write four more articles in various other ag periodicals.

1910 Sept. - The first "Soybean day" in Indiana is held at Taylor Fouts' farm - sponsored by the Purdue agricultural extension department and the Carroll County agent. "It proved quite a help in creating interest in the crop. Report of this demonstration reached Illinois and a few days later in drove two 'suckers' - Chas. L. Meharry and Wm. Riegel, all the way from Tolono." They soon became close friends and soybean pioneers in Illinois.

1914 - Taylor buys an old pioneer-type elevator at Camden. It is remodeled and equipped with a recleaning and grading mill for preparation and storage of the growing amount of seed beans. "This was perhaps the first soybean elevator devoted exclusively to the handling and shipping of soybeans in the U.S."

1915 Jan. - Taylor writes his first article about soy beans, titled "Soy beans - A coming crop," in the Purdue Agriculturist (p. 9-13). He discusses four advantages of planting corn and soy beans (especially the Hollybrook variety) together. Three photographs accompany the article - including one of "hogging off" soybeans.
1916 fall - A second soybean day is held at the "Fouts Bros. Farms - more acres, varieties, and experiences, and more folks to see and talk." Interest in the new crop is growing.

1918 - "The name Soyland was adopted for the farm and seemed to fit." The Fouts brothers soon find themselves working as seedsmen, selling soybean seeds. For many years the price had stayed around $2.00 to $2.50 a bushel, but in 1917, because of demand and shortages during World War I, the price rose to $3.00, climbing to $5.00 in 1918, then $6-8/bushel in 1919. "At the end of that period we were offered $10.00 per bushel so we scoured the community for remnants from seeding and shipped 30 bushels for $300.00."

1920 Sept. 3 - The biggest event in the history of the soybean in America to date takes place on Taylor Fouts' farm, Soyland. It's "The Corn Belt Soy-bean conference," under the auspices of the Extension department of Purdue University (especially W.A. Ostrander) and the Carroll County Farm bureau (A.L. Hodgson, agricultural agent). The Fouts brothers planted a number of variety test plots for the occasion; they grew 150 acres designed for seed and hay, and planted soybeans in over 200 acres of their corn. One thousand people attend and have a great time. Taylor demonstrated a "small direct harvesting machine" for soybean which he apparently developed or invented. W.E. Riegel wrote of this machine in 1944 as a forerunner of the combine, first used to harvest soybeans in 1924 (in Illinois). The combine revolutionized soybean production in America. Taylor wrote a song about soybeans, which is sung by a quartet of local growers. Lunch includes soybean salads and crunchy roasted and salted soybeans - "a rare treat." A panoramic photograph (three feet wide) is taken showing all attendees with the Fouts home in the background. Another photo shows the three Fouts brothers, each wearing a hat, coat, and tie, standing in front of the "Soyland" barn. The National Soybean Growers' Association is formed at this meeting. Taylor Fouts is elected its first president and W.A. Ostrander is elected secretary. It is unanimously agreed that a soy bean field day be held each year as a vital activity of the association.

1923 - A 24-page mail-order seed catalog titled "Soyland Seeds: Soybeans our specialty" is published by the "Fouts Brothers" (company name) of Camden, Indiana. It describes many soybean varieties that are for sale and gives details on growing and harvesting soybeans. They also sell Michikoff seed wheat, Victory Oats, Calico Seed Corn, and clover seeds. By 1925 they have added Red Star fertilizer to their product line.

1925 Sept. - Taylor writes an article titled "Putting soybeans on the hoof," published in the Proceedings of the American Soybean Assoc. (p. 123-26). In late 1925 Taylor is one of four members of a committee that draws up a constitution and by-laws for the reorganized The National Soybean Growers' Association, which is renamed the "American Soybean Association" (ASA). Today it is considered one of the world's most powerful agricultural commodity associations.

1927 Jan. 14 - Taylor Fouts is one of the first ten Indiana Master Farmers honored by Prairie Farmer (Indiana) magazine. He receives the prestigious Master Farmer award and a gold medal in a public ceremony.

1927 Nov. 28 - Taylor Fouts is elected president of the ASA for a second time. He is the second person ever elected to the ASA presidency for two terms; the first was William J. Morse of the USDA in 1923-24, and 1924-25. Taylor, Noah, and Finis write a light and witty article titled "Soyland - Fouts Bros., Camden, Indiana," published in the Proceedings of the American Soybean Assoc. (p. 92-97).

1928 - The Fouts brothers have sold their seed business, Soyland Seeds, with its office by the railroad tracks in Camden, to Roy M. Caldwell and Chester Joyce, who rename the company Soy Seed Co. Soyland Seeds' office had been run by Rufus Fouts (son of Finis) until his untimely death on 25 July 1926, at age 24 years and 8 months.

1929 March 5 - Taylor Fouts' home (built by his father, Solomon, in about 1876-1877) burns to the ground.

In 1930 Taylor and a hired man finish building a new house on the foundation of the old one.

1938 Feb. 24 - Noah Fouts dies in Dallas, Texas, as he is returning home from a trip to California.

1943 April 3 - Finis Fouts dies in Logansport, Cass Co., Indiana.

1944 Sept. - Taylor writes "Soyland saga," published in Soybean Digest (p. 15-16). This is the single best history of the Fouts brothers' pioneering work with soybeans. It contains two good photographs and the lyrics to the song he wrote about soybeans in 1920.

1950 Aug. 29 - Taylor Fouts is honored at the 30th annual convention of the American Soybean Association, where he is named an honorary life member and presented a gold-plated medallion for his contribution to the soybean industry. ASA's first honorary life members were chosen in Sept. 1946 and 2-3 were named each year.

1952 Dec. 11 - Taylor Fouts dies at his home near Deer Creek, Carroll Co., Indiana. He had grown soybeans on his farm for 49 consecutive years - longer than any other farmer in America. Now his son-in-law, Leo Bowman, continues that tradition. As of Oct. 1999 soybeans are still being grown each year on that farm.